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Family Business

Have you've met the team?

Paraphernalia was founded in 2001 by The (God)Father Mike Smith who had seen a gap in the furniture retail market at a time when flat pack and Allen keys were threatening to take over the world. It was time to bring back real, un-compressed, un-vinyl-covered and un-laminated wood back into people's homes. Time to bring back the smell of trees and beeswax instead of fish-smelling glue and sawdust. Bring back authenticity and craftsmanship. The key to the early success of Paraphernalia, was not an Allen key. It was the vision of one man to sell quality, handcrafted, real wood furniture at prices affordable to all. For this, he sourced his products straight from the places where they were made by hand by skillful crafstmen. The first furniture range to grace Mike's new shop was the beautiful Jali range in solid Sheesham wood also known as Indian Rosewood. The Jali Sheesham became Paraphernalia's signature line, later joined by light mango, acacia, rustic oak and Monkey Pod wood furniture

When Greg left school he joined his father, honing his own business skills, bringing a younger viewpoint to the marketing aspect of the business, IT skills, not to mention much needed stamina and muscle power, essential to the day-to-day practical side of the business!

Twelve years later, in 2012, Mike retired to sunny Spain and Greg took over the business. With its solid early foundation and Greg's fresh input into the business, his contemporary approach to today's marketing and shopping methods, Paraphernalia's appeal stretches over the generations and is growing from strength to strength. Greg's brother Dan, award-winning web designer with an artistic talent only matched by his brother's business acumen, designed Paraphernalia's beautiful website, keeping it current, fresh and user-friendly.

Then in 2013, with the business still growing, Greg decided it was high time to bring someone else in. Someone, who would be happy to juggle up their week's diary, to check/wrap/wax/handle the goods, serve customers with a smile, make tea, handle customer service, couriers, web orders, incoming deliveries, write the odd blog... and baby-sit the next generation on her days off.

Bring in Mum! 


What looms in Paraphernalia stock room

Paraphernalia premises weren't always Paraphernalia premises. This two-storey 16th century listed building has seen many occupiers and the shop has had many uses since it first was a pub, back in 1670.

Today it is the perfect surrounding to display our ranges of exotic furniture and giftware; The Indian Jali Sheesham, the contempory Ambala in light Mango wood, the classic Siena range in light rustic oak fit perfectly with the beams, the bowed walls and low ceilings. The quirkiness of the place makes it an ideal showroom where the soft glow of the unusual lamps dotted around the rooms and the rich waft of beeswax we use on our furniture never fail to attract lovely comments from customers and browsers alike.

However, our "compact-and-bijou" stock room, which we can only guess, must have been a kitchen pantry in ancient times, is not the perfect surrounding for our vast collection of giftware, artifacts, twist stools, trunks and boxes, sculptures, mirrors and lamps, etc. not to mention the furniture packaging. Flattened boxes are quite content to stay in place, squeezed tight against each other in a corner. The same cannot be said of the huge rolls of corrugated cardboard and bubble wrap used to package the furniture before it is dispatched for delivery. Those will not stay in place in a corner. They have a life of their own, rolling and sliding and finally tumbling down in a huge pile blocking entry to the stock room or sometimes blocking in whosever is inside at the time. I know. I've been there, feeling like that hero...

Indiana Jones and the Ten Rolls of Doom! 

From India to Paraphernalia - A long journey

From India to Paraphernalia - A long journey

Paraphernalia started 15 years ago with what was to become our signature line; the beautiful Jali Sheesham range. Sheesham is also known as Indian Rosewood. The Jali range is identified by its typical portcullis embellishments. We bring our Jali Sheesham furniture by container, by sea and road all the way from India where the furniture is handmade by skilled craftsmen. The charm of these pieces entirely made by hand comes from their little characteristics, oddities and marks which make each piece one of its kind. The craftsmen number the furniture drawers, legs and their respective slots with chalk as they may not quite fit if inserted in any other. Quaint! You don't get the uniformed exactitude achieved by industrially mass-produced machine-made furniture. What you get is character. You get something that took hard work, long hours, and great skills to achieve. It is solid, heavy, and quite magnificent. With the minimum care, bar the occasional coat of wax and a good buffing, it will last forever, gracing your home and, who knows, your great, great grandchildren's home too!

Our October container is soon to arrive after a long journey and probably many contretemps and obstacles along the way, which is why we can never give an exact arrival date until it's almost here. Then the fun starts. Unloading, unwrapping, checking, waxing, buffing and rewrapping each Jali sideboard dining set, bookcase, tv unit, coffee table etc. It is hard work but when we think where all this beautiful furniture comes from, how it was made and how long and hard it took to get it here, we can't help getting quite excited about it.

Now where's that tin of wax!


Welcome to our new Blog!

Welcome to our Blog! This being the first one, we'd better get it right.

There are plenty of sites out there that will teach, lecture, inform and demonstrate in detail all you need to know about foresting, wood production or furniture manufacture and distribution. So we won't try to compete. Instead, we will write about Paraphernalia, its people, its events, its ups-and-downs, its good and bad news and generally what we have taken on board from our customers and our experiences here over the years, as candidly as we dare. We will also share knowledge and tricks about furniture care we have learned along the way and which you may find useful. We will share all this with you and hope you will find it all interesting and entertaining and that you will keep visiting us.

Today, just a bit of trivia: what is Paraphernalia?

According to the dictionary, a collection or mixture of apparatus and items related to a specific occupation, art, sport, decoration etc... But did you know that in old family law, paraphernalia was the term used for the separate property of a married woman excluding the assets that may have been included in her dowry. A husband could not sell, appropriate, or convey good title to his wife's assets considered paraphernalia without her separate consent.The word "paraphernalia" means "things beyond the dowry", from the Greek "parapherna", "beyond (para) the dowry (pherna)"

Well, we learn something new every day!

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